Sudfeld, IU offense see more balance in the future

Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld knew going into Saturday’s season opener against Indiana State that his offense would be focused on establishing a running game.

If he had any qualms about such a philosophy, all he needed was a quick look at Tevin Coleman before the game.

“He had a look in his eye,” Sudfeld said. “He was ready to go with the whole Anthony Thompson thing — he wanted to live up to that.”

While Coleman and fellow running back D’Angelo Roberts lived up to the top billing, Sudfeld took a backseat. In doing so, Sudfeld never looked like he found a rhythm with his receivers. He didn’t attempt a pass until the final minute of the first quarter and didn’t complete one until nearly five minutes later.

Sudfeld finished 11-of-18 for 111 yards and one interception.

“I was just trying to take what they were giving me, which was the run,” Sudfeld said. “Those are run-pass options. I’d see it, hand it off, and watch the guys run. I mean, it was working pretty well. We probably need to have better balance but, as coach says, you learn a lot from the first to the second week. We’re not worried about it. We’re excited. There were a lot of good things to learn from and we got a nice win.”

Sudfeld also carried the ball a career-high 10 times, finding occasional success — he had a long run of 11 yards — but also taking curious routes and running into his own blockers a couple times.

The junior didn’t look completely lost on the run, but it’s not in his bailiwick, either.

“It wasn’t a lot of technically designed stuff,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said “He did manage it for the most part pretty well, not trying to get hits. He did miss a couple things on scrambles. So we’ve got some stuff to take off, but it was nice to see him protect the ball and protect himself. We made one poor decision in the passing game that cost us a turnover. But, other than that, I just think he had a hard time seeing it. I don’t think we did a good job of game planning for him. We’ve got to do a better job for him and he’ll be fine.”


  1. Wanting to make game prep as shallow as possible for Mizzou I doubt we see the full passing game repertoire against BG either. WKU scored 59 on BG last Saturday.

  2. I agree HC. As I wrote after the game, Wilson seemed to coach this ISU game as if it was a summer-camp scrimmage.

    On a different matter, I wish Wilson would stop going for it on fourth and any distance more than 12 inches. Nothing wrong with kicking field goals unless the game is on the line late in the fourth quarter. I don’t have all the stats, but Wilson’s been doing this since his first year, and I believe it has cost him a win or two. And with the defenses he’s fielded in the last three seasons, he needed all the points he could get. Wilson got away with those gambles in his first two years because expectations for those teams were very low. But he can’t afford to take those risks any more. If IU fails to make it to a bowl game this year because his team lost by a point or two because they failed to convert on a fourth and three from the 26 yard line, Wilson’s seat is going to be sizzling hot come December. Kick the field goals, coach.

  3. I like his style, particularly going for it on some 4th downs. Unless IU goes completely in the crapper this year I doubt with this schedule he’ll feel heat in his 5th year.

  4. You’re probably right, HC. But I can see a scenario that places Wilson in the hot seat. If IU loses a game or two because Wilson chooses to gamble on 4th downs, and those losses prevent IU from going to a bowl game, he’s going to feel the heat.

    Another reason I didn’t like his gambles on fourth down was that he has a new kicker who needs experience and reps under pressure in a real game. What better scenario to acclimate your new kicker than to make him kick in a game against ISU?

  5. I doubt IU Football could do much better than Wilson for a very long time.

    To tame his personality, or remove his unpredictable nature, would make the overall appeal diminished. IU football doesn’t need conventional.

    I’m all for the gambling…It may cost a few points on the board, but the cost would be much greater(in terms of even lower attendance/interest/spark on the field) without his unconventional wisdom and bit of rebel mentality/appeal.

    It was unconventional to gamble his career on IU Football. The gamble to “go for it” on an occasional 4th down to keep a drive alive is tame in comparison.

    Unlike the tweeting “I need constant validation” micro-manager over at Assembly, Wilson is a breath of fresh air and fresh confidence not seen in IU Sports for quite some time.

    Only time will tell, but I tend to believe Wilson could be to Hoosier football what Knight was to our basketball program. I don’t think IU football could have generated near the feeling of a revitalized spirit with any other coach. The success built from a dynamic and fast-paced offensive game will begin to filter into a more confident and higher level recruit on the defensive side.

    Glass made a great call in bringing in a great offensive mind first and foremost. There is a glimmer of hope at a Memorial Stadium that has not felt such optimism for decades. To even hint of “hot seat” and begin to unnecessarily chisel at Wilson’s competence in play calling/decision-making while in the heart of a long term rebuilding is….? …..weird.

    Maybe IU football fans have turned into Cubs fans; to “love” the uninspiring norm of a lovable loser can become almost a form of addictive, self-sabotaging, defeatism rooted in the fear of uncertainty/insecurities that are possible with the fleeting romance of a true winner. Much of what we attach to in sports is a reflection of what we want to keep safe in our own mirrors. We put “heat” on things that become a threat…They are the manifestations of dysfunctions surfacing in our own reluctance to look inward.

    To get rid of Wilson(even in the midst of some very disappointing outcomes) after this season would signify a preference for old identities.

  6. Statistically, in the course of a game, it is much more advantageous to go for it on 4th down. Most coaches don’t do so, however, for the reasons that Podunker explained, they get pilloried by the press and fans if it doesn’t pay off.

    An advanced stat geek with a naval background (Brian Burke) came up with a pretty sweet chart about when to go for it and when to kick (punt and FG).

    The data to back this idea up is massive, but the concept is simple. A team needs to optimize its scoring (with emphasis on the early part of the game). Especially in this day an age where scoring 30 pts isn’t that hard anymore, kicking is getting more and more useless. FGs just don’t add up and over the course of the game, going for it on 4th down to score touchdowns vs FGs adds up to more expected points than playing it conservatively. Your win probability increases by doing things to maximize scoring.

    Brian Burke shows two theories as to why, even if the numbers support it, why they don’t go for it on 4th down more often:

    “The first fallacy is called base rate neglect. This is an error all people tend to make, even experts. The most common example is when doctors are asked to estimate the chances of someone having a disease given certain facts. They almost universally ignore the base rate of the disease—that, say, only one in 100,000 people in the population will ever contract it.

    Similarly, when coaches are asked in postgame press conferences about fourth-down decisions, they discuss only the particulars of the situation: how successful they were on the two short-yardage plays earlier in the game, the nagging injury to the left guard, and the success his defense has had so far that day. What they always ignore is the base rate of success. But it’s the most important piece of information. It’s the one thing you’d want to know as a head coach in such a situation. All that other stuff affects the equation at the margins, but unless you know the base rate they’re practically useless. That’s the analysis I provide—the base rates that show how often teams succeed on fourth down, and the effect on your win probability if you go for it.

    Given how coaches talk, you would think that the situational particulars almost always discourage going for it. That’s where the second fallacy comes into play, something called prospect theory. Prospect theory simply observes that we are about twice as upset to lose something as we would be happy to gain the same thing. If you misplace a $20 bill, you’ll be twice as pissed at yourself as you would be glad to find a twenty on the sidewalk. Experiments show that this is a universal human tendency.

    …It’s a lot less logical in the NFL. Coaches see failing on fourth down as losing the $20 bill and succeeding on fourth down as finding one. They look at that single decision in isolation from the larger game, magnifying the relative consequences of failure before they make their decision. Fans and other observers—at least the logical ones—don’t feel the same effect because we’re not the ones directly confronted with the consequences. (The same phenomenon has been observed in golf, where risk-averse pros putt to avoid bogeys rather than to gain strokes by making birdies.)”

    Remember when Bill Belichick became the goat for “losing the game” when he went for it on 4th down a few years ago in the NFC Championship game? He made the right call then, but he was blasted for it at the time. Coaches don’t get criticized for calling for a FG and they kicker misses it. Blame is shifted to the kicker.

  7. Incredible post Double Down. Perhaps, the single most intelligent- therefore the most enjoyable- post I’ve read in the three years of following “Scoop”. And, thanks also for the link to the outstanding work by Burke on fourth down dilemmas/choices that impact coaches and their decision. I couldn’t help but to smile when the Burke article discussed the consequences of failure (winning/losing a $20 bill) and why most coaches avoid it, when in fact going for it makes mathematical sense, up to and including a two game win/loss swing per season. Obviously though, Burke (and Belichek) didn’t have to drink the poison of dealing with the Podunkers who show up to celebrate failure.

    I think we are very lucky to have Wilson as well; especially when you consider his background and therefore his ‘feel’ for the mathematics of winning.

    And DD, I agree totally with your comment on Harvard’s great post on Wilson. Not only do I agree, but appreciate the fact that you say so and ‘get’ the value of HfH comments.

    You’ve made a fan out of me Mr. Double Down.

  8. Harvard, that was awesome. Beautifully expressed and from the heart. Looking at WIlson as a type of “Anti-Crean” is an interesting take. I look forward to a rarity this Fall: agreeing with Harvard about an IU coach.

  9. Double Down…Tsao….Seahawk….and yours truly. Sweet Jesus, all together in what appeared to be sweet comments and sweet feelings for Hoosier football. I’d have to say this was a ‘Sweet’ thread.

    Tsao on drums…Double Down as lead vocals…Seahawk on guitar…and Harvard on bass selling the “Harvard look”(appropriately Steve Priest) at the 1:01 to 1:04 mark of the following SWEET clip.

  10. Lord…Blitz…exactly right and funny enough that’s the metaphor that came to mind when I saw yours and Seattle’s comments. I would only add that the score written by DD, along with his Ravel’s ‘Pictures At An Exhibition’-like interpretation of Burke’s math analysis of ‘fourth down options and cultural variance’ helped with fresh, fresh score.

    Conclusion…it’s fun when guys who enjoy the art of thinking get together to talk about that which is really important.

  11. What is interesting, is that I feel like the cloud that Harv talks about that envelopes Indiana Football is gone for me (I don’t know about you guys). Wilson hasn’t just built a decent team, but a stable program with a vision that not only his players buy into, but one us Hoosier fans can embrace.

    Just reenforcing Harv’s thoughts, but it took a set of cajones that would run elephants away from the watering hole at the Okawango Delta to take the Indiana job. But it was also a smart calculation. In order to turn things around, it would take a dedicated effort by the athletic dept and the university to make it happen.

    I think McRobbie & Glass are doing everything in their power to help get IU out of punchline status for football.

    Another credit to Wilson, which Dustin talked about in his “Exit Interview: was how he has grown as a coach and a person. We’re seeing him learn and grow as a Head Coach on and off the field.

    I cannot believe I have these feelings, but they are well earned. I’m prettty darn bullish and outright excited for football at Indiana now.

  12. I’d say it’s not totally cloudy…It’s partly sunny with a 40% chance of a late afternoon Podunker.

    The lead singer of Sweet developed an all-consuming addiction to alcohol. Just on the heals of huge success, he was rushed to the hospital…His wife tells the tale of a horrifically damaged body that could no longer function from the alcohol abuses…His abdomen had become hideously bloated. Shortly after admission, his heart proceeded to stop. He was revived, but the doctors told his wife that he would likely suffer permanent brain damage even if he made it through the night. Brian Connolly had 13 more cardiac arrests during the next 24 hours. After miraculously making it through the entire ordeal, he woke up the next day telling his wife that he was hungry. He asked if she could get him some fish ‘n’ chips….

    If you have a free 1/2 hour, the Sweet/Brian Connolly documentary is well worth the 31 minutes(his ex-wife’s words discussing his heart attack is at the 22:30 mark).

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